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Musk regrets controversial post but won't bow to advertiser 'blackmail'

Agence France-Presse
Musk regrets controversial post but won't bow to advertiser 'blackmail'
C.E.O. of Tesla, Chief Engineer of SpaceX and C.T.O. of X Elon Musk speaks during the New York Times annual DealBook summit on November 29, 2023 in New York City. Andrew Ross Sorkin returns for the NYT summit for a day of interviews with Vice President Kamala Harris, President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-Wen, C.E.O. of Tesla, Chief Engineer of SpaceX and C.T.O. of X Elon Musk, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and leaders in business, politics and culture.
Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images / AFP

NEW YORK, United States — Elon Musk apologized Wednesday for endorsing a social media post widely seen as anti-Semitic, but accused advertisers who are turning away from his social media platform X of "blackmail" and said anyone who does so can "go fuck yourself."

The remark before corporate executives at the New York Times' Dealbook conference drew a shocked silence.

Earlier, Musk had apologized for what he called "literally the worst and dumbest post that I've ever done."

In a comment on X, formerly Twitter, Musk on November 15 called a post "the actual truth" that said Jewish communities advocated a "dialectical hatred against whites," which was criticized as echoing longtime conspiracy theory among White supremacists.

The statement prompted a flood of departures from X of major advertisers, including Apple, Disney, Comcast and IBM who criticized Musk for anti-semitism.

"I'm sorry for that tweet or post," Musk said Wednesday. "It was foolish of me."

He told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin that his post had been misinterpreted and that he had sought to clarify the remark in subsequent posts to the thread.

But Musk also said he wouldn't be beholden to pressure from advertisers.

"If somebody's gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money?" Musk said. "Go fuck yourself."

But the billionaire acknowledged that there were business implications to the advertiser actions.

"If the company fails... it will fail because of an advertiser boycott" Musk said. "And that will be what will bankrupt the company." 

Musk, who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Israel earlier this week, insisted in the interview that he holds no discrimination against Jews, calling himself "philo-Semitic," or an admirer of Judaism.

During the interview, Musk wore a necklace given to him by a parent of an Israeli hostage taken in the Hamas attack on October 7. The necklace reads, "Bring Them Home."

Musk told Sorkin that the Israel trip had been planned earlier and was not an "apology tour" related to the controversial tweet.

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